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Report: Darvin Ham has made ‘strongest impression’ on Lakers during interview process

As the Lakers move to the next phase of their interview process, one of the three finalists in Darvin Ham appears to reportedly be the current frontrunner.

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Charlotte Hornets Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

With the Lakers moving to the next stage of the process in their search for a head coach, the three finalists are reportedly Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson and former Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. However, even among just those three, it appears there is a current favorite.

In total, the Lakers interviewed six candidates with fellow Bucks assistant Charles Lee, Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin and former Warriors coach Mark Jackson. Among all of those, Ham is the one that made the strongest impression, according to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic.

The Lakers appear poised to make a decision on their coaching position soon, with Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson and former Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts the finalists for the job that became vacant when Frank Vogel was fired at season’s end. But as the final round of interviews is set, sources tell The Athletic that Ham appears to have made the strongest impression yet.

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In terms of the Lakers’ preferences, sources say team officials have prioritized a coach who can command respect and authority from the locker room and who has a strong enough presence and voice to manage the varying roles and relationships across the roster. Those characteristics bode well for Ham’s candidacy. Throughout assistant coaching stops with the Lakers, Hawks and Bucks, Ham has been known for his no-nonsense style and ability to resonate with his players — attributes that have stood out in his communication with the Lakers thus far as well, sources said.

Ham was the first candidate the Lakers reached out to interview at the beginning of the process. He’s also a former Lakers assistant coach, joining the team under Mike Brown as a player development coach and stayed with Los Angeles through 2013.

Many of the qualities he has were ones Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka expressed a desire when he spoke about what the franchise would be looking for in its next head coach.

“Every coaching candidate is unique in their skill set,” Pelinka said during his exit interview at season’s end. “So this is not an analysis of (Vogel) whatsoever, and I want to be clear on that. But in terms of what this team needs right now, we feel like obviously with superstars on our team we want a strong voice that is able to inspire the players to play at the highest level of competition every night, and I think that’s going to be one of the resounding qualities that we look for, in terms of holding everybody from the top player on our team to the 15th man to a degree of accountability, and that’s going to be one of the many characteristics that jumps out today.”

More good news to come out of The Athletic piece was that it appears Jackson is the only candidate to be eliminated from the team’s search.

The Lakers have interviewed a total of six candidates, including Bucks assistant Charles Lee, Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin and former Warriors coach Mark Jackson. Lee and Griffin have not been ruled out as options as part of the process, sources said.

Realistically, any of the five remaining names would not be bad candidates for the next head coach. While there are definitely preferences and tiers among the five left, there aren’t any outright bad candidates.

But the general consensus seems to be that Ham is the front runner heading into the final round which bodes well for the franchise, for now at least.

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